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Breathing Easier: New Air Purifier Turning Heads

July 31, 2018
Claiming to surpass HEPA filters, the 'Molekule' PECO purifier uses filter media with a nanoparticle coating that, when light-activated, reacts to destroy all airborne pollutants.

One of the first things I learned after starting to write this column in 2013 was that the research took significantly more time than did the putting of pencil to paper (or, more accurately, typing keystrokes on the computer). It’s also, for me, more fun, since I always learn something new. Unfortunately, that research does not often involve direct conversation with leaders in our industry. Such was not the case this month.

Following up on a lead from HPAC's Rob McManamy, who had heard a radio promo for Molekule Inc., I had the opportunity two weeks ago to speak with firm CEO Dilip Goswami. Based in San Francisco, the manufacturer of indoor air purifiers.  – with a research and development component in Tampa, Florida – was started by Dilip, his sister Jaya, and their father, Yogi Goswami, PhD. The elder Dr. Goswami, a leader in solar technology research (he’s currently Distinguished Professor and Director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida) began researching indoor air purification solutions when Dilip, then a child, suffered from serious allergies and asthma and Dr. Goswami was not satisfied with the air purifiers then commercially available.

Fast forward to 2016, when Molekule launched their “molecular” air purifier, utilizing the photo electrochemical oxidation (PECO) technology that Dr. Goswami had been using in the development of solar water purification.  The PECO purifier, unlike conventional HEPA filters, uses filter media with a nanoparticle coating that, when light activated, reacts to break down airborne pollutants. 

According to Dilip, their air purifier will destroy particles as small as 0.00001μm vs. the typical 0.3 μm capability of HEPA filters or 0.12 μm of ULPA filters.  Although their current product offering is limited to a residential unit, which has a pre-filter for larger particles and is both quiet and energy efficient (they can be purchased online at their website), much of our discussion was on their future ability to scale-up for commercial applications. Incidentally, according to Dilip, they have sold out their residential air purifier production seven times since they began shipping product in early 2017!

Because their patented PECO technology is relatively simple in concept, they do not anticipate any major hurdles to developing filters for commercial applications.  A filter wall in an AHU could, for example, be coated with their light-activated catalyst.  Or, for smaller systems, an inline filter could be duct-mounted. Since indoor air quality is one of my primary professional interests, particularly in critical environments such as clean rooms and hospital operating rooms, we specifically discussed the potential for PECO filtration in those applications, and he agreed to let me know when they start doing Beta testing for those end uses…it might make for a good follow-up article.

Since the technology upon which Molekule was founded was a direct result of a dad trying to make his son more comfortable, it’s not surprising that the family-owned business is committed to “helping millions of people breathe better and easier”. When asked to explain their success to date, Dilip replied, “People are hungry for new solutions in air quality”. 

It doesn’t seem to get any newer than this!

A regular contributor to HPAC Engineering and a member of its editorial advisory board, the author is a principal at Sustainable Performance Solutions LLC, a south Florida-based engineering firm focusing on energy and sustainability.